§ MR. WILLIAM O'BRIEN (Cork City)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether, having regard to the unanimous resolution of the Congested Districts Board, and the expression of opinion in the House as to the necessity for increased financial and compulsory powers for the acquisition of land, for migration, and enlargement of small holdings in the congested districts, he will introduce a Bill this Session applying to Ireland the powers already exercised under the Scotch Crofters' Acts, and enabling the Land Commission, on the requisition of the Congested Districts Board, to undertake the direct purchase of suitable lands out of the funds at their disposal?
MR. J. MORLEY
Under the 57th and 58th Vic., cap. 50, the Congested Districts Board are enabled to use the powers of the Lands Clauses Acts, excepting the provisions of such Acts relating to the taking of land otherwise than by agreement—that is, compulsorily. The Board are not empowered, however, to draw upon the funds of the Land Commission provided by the Purchase Acts, and the Board have no funds at their 1052 disposal for any purpose, except the yearly sum of, £41,250 and the two small fishery loans. The Board are aware that there are large tracts of land that could be used for the purposes of the enlargement of small holdings and the promotion of migration; but they are of opinion that a grant of additional funds to them would be necessary to give due effect to this important department of their work, and that they should also be armed with compulsory powers to acquire lands at their just value. The latter part of this question appears to have been framed under a misapprehension. The power for the enlargement of holdings conferred by the Crofters' Acts upon the Crofters' Commission is a power to make an order for a lease of additional land, subject to various conditions. I am informed that the Crofters' Commission has no power to take land compulsorily. A Bill proposing to confer such compulsory powers on the Congested Districts Board must necessarily, I fear, be calculated to occupy a good deal of time; and, in the circumstances, I cannot undertake to introduce legislation on the subject this Session.